Just like millions of others, I have spent the last week cooped up home, hands grasping Joy-Cons as I tediously collected bugs and fish in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Besides becoming obsessively focused on how to pay off astronomical loans, I’ve come to realize that the way society views gender is meaningless and obsolete.
Upon entering character creation, the player chooses not gender but “styles”, with an accompanying message declaring that you may change this later. Regardless of what style you choose in the beginning, all hairstyles, make up options, and face shapes are available to your character without restriction.
There are no limitations to how one can express themselves. And the way one decides to do their hair or what clothes they don has no effect on how their character interacts with the world around them. A male-presenting character has no more of an advantage in shoveling out trees than any other gender-presenting character would have. Additionally, I found myself freely changing hairstyles and even have taken liberties to apply a bit of makeup to my character’s face, yet not a single one of my neighbors noticed.
Society could benefit such a liberation of gender expectations. Why should it matter if I were to somehow alter my appearances from the typical bounds of my preassigned gender as long as I am still as human as I was before? It’s a complete shame that we have been brought up to so readily shame and demean those that are different or “strange”. It should matter not whether makeup decorates my face or that my body hair has the audacity to reach its natural length. Though we’ve all gone through a lifetime of this societal construct ingrained into our minds, maybe Animal Crossing will open the eyes of many in order to free themselves from such a limited view.
Despite such a progressive view on defining, rather, the lack of, gender, Animal Crossing still has much to aspire in terms of exploitative classism where Tom Nook continues to pitfall the player in endless debt as Nook promises the player more and more expansions, enticing the player to be at the whim of this privileged and merciless landlord.